FOUR HOPEFULS UNVEILED FOR THE TURNER PRIZE 2008 AT TATE

a photo of a cylindrical artwork

Goshka Mackuga, Deutsche Volk – Deutsche Arbeit. Photo © Tara Booth / Culture24

Tara Booth takes an objective look at this year’s Turner Prize – at Tate Britain until January 18 2009.

The work by this year’s shortlisted artists in the running for the 2008 Turner Prize has gone on display at London’s Tate Britain and it’s the usual heady mix of mild shock and puzzling abstraction.

Runa Islam, Mark Lecky, Goshka Macuga and Cathy Wilkes are competing for the £25,000 prize, which is awarded to a British artist under the age of 50 for an outstanding exhibition or presentation in the 12 months before May 6.

The winner will be announced on December 1 during a live broadcast on Channel 4 and the runners-up will receive a sum of £5,000.

Widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe the Turner Prize is, whatever you think of it, very effective in encouraging debate and seems to revel in controversial or bizarre pieces.

Previous winners of the Turner Prize include Grayson Perry, Chris Ofili and last year’s winner, the man in a bear suit, Mark Wallington.

Heading up the pack this year, Goshka Macuga is an artist who engages with the construction of histories and is best known for her distinctive installations and environments that explore conventions of archiving, exhibition making and museum display.

Her installation for the Turner Prize attempts to fuse the romantic relationships of artists Paul Nash and Eileen Agar with that of designer Lilly Reich and architect and designer Mies van der Rohe.

To achieve this she juxtaposes meanings and materials by reconciling photographs and paper templates from the Nash and Agar archives into dynamic, single images.

Cathy Wilkes, I Give You All My Money – Photo © Tara Booth / Culture 24

a photo of an artwork featuring desks and mannequins

“She breaths new life into them, encouraging new narratives and meanings,” said Curator Helen Little. “It is an ongoing fascination and exploration of Nash and the relationship between the two.”

What results is a concoction of old and new with collages that not only bring together ideas from two people but also unites the relationship.

The sculptural ensemble Haus der Frau I, Haus der Frau II and Deutsche Volk – Deutsche Arbeit (all 2008) are reconstructed from drawings with the help of an engineer. They delve into the forgotten history of Lilly Reich, Mie’s long-term professional and personal partner, who developed revolutionary approaches to exhibition design.

The ensemble was also shown at the fifth Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art in which she was shortlisted for.

Cathy Wilkes’ room-sized installation, I Give You All My Money, presents a highly charged arrangement of consumer readymades, such as prams and televisions, combined with sculptures, found objects and manipulated images.

Describing her installations as confessional and diaristic, Wilkes’ work lies in the examination of the language of objects and is a characterisation of the direct charm of daily human experience.

Two supermarket checkouts and two mannequins stand in the centre of the room with objects and fragments scattered around. Hair, leftover food, glass bowls, burnt wood, scraps of clothing and discarded toys lie on the gallery floor.

“Cathy has chosen everyday objects plus things from her own domestic realm,” explained curator Sophie O’Brian. “Everything has been delicately and precisely placed, to encourage people to relook at objects with a refreshed eye. She makes the familiar unfamiliar.”

a photo of a poster showing a woman wearing a leotard

Mark Leckey, Resident Poster. © Mark Leckey

Often using found images, footage and sound, Mark Leckey’s work engages in a dynamic questioning of the connections between surface and dimension, appearance and self-determination, location and presence.

He specifically celebrates the imagination and our potential to inhabit, reclaim or animate an idea, a space, or an object.

His group of works here focusses on a series of sculptural animals including Felix gets Broadcasted 2007, Made in ‘Eaven 2004 and Search Engine.

Cinema-in-the-Round 2006-2008 is a short lecture that presents the artist’s collection of film, television and video extracts as a subjective lecture-style performance.

Split into chapters, the talk considers the proposition of matter, the transformation from still to moving image, the development of images from flat to voluminous and the life of images on-screen.

He discusses Felix, the animated cat, popular in the 1920s and 1930s and the development of the CGI Garfield. The 1997 blockbuster Titanic is also discussed in terms of the director James Cameron’s attempt to showcase the relationship between man and technology.

He also approaches the ability to transform an object from 2D to 3D and finally to reality using the recognisable Homer from The Simpsons as an example.

Interested in the transformation of flat to still to moving image to 3D, Leckey’s interest is drawn from the Internet, books, adverts, Hitchcockian films and magic. He uses his own identity as a filter for a wide variety of found material.

Runa Islam, Be The First To See What You See As You See It. 2004, Courtesy Jay Jopling (London). © the artist

a photo showing a film still of a woman peering at a teapot

Runa Islam presents a selection of three film works including ‘Be The First To See What You See As You See It’ 2004, ‘First Day of Spring’ 2005 and CINEMATOGRAPHY 2007.

Islam’s open-ended pieces are closely choreographed allowing her to innovatively use the apparatus and illusion of film to question and re-imagine contemporary visual culture.

Be The First To See What You See As You See It is a collage of sequences of a woman in a gallery of chintzy china crockery on plinths. As she wanders through the gallery in a dreamlike state, she gently taps the china, which falls and shatters on the floor.

The moment of fracture is exaggerated with slow motion as Islam explores the ability of objects existing.

First Day of Spring is a short silent film of Bangladeshi rickshaw drivers at rest. It is a sympathetic portrait of everyday life and is very lyrical in places. Slow tracking shots scan the scene which then develop into close-ups, revealing texture and life.

CINEMATOGRAPHY investigates the concept and technical foundation of the medium to an extreme, tracking letters of the film’s title as the film progresses. She applies close detail to composition and again favours the tracking shot as the camera swoops around a film apparatus workshop.

Although densely layered, her films reconfigure the conventional structure of the film image to reveal isolated elements of its construction.

“Her films are very carefully choreographed and deliberately open-ended,” said Curator Carolyn Kerr. “Runa is fascinated with the illusion of film, location, plot, familiarity, light and dark and camera apparatuses.”

By Tara Booth

The Turner Prize 2008 Exhibition is open September 30 2008 – January 18 2009 at the Linbury Galleries, Tate Britain. The winner will be announced on December 1 2008

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Shozo Shimamoto

Szozo Shimamoto, was born in Osaka, Japan in 1928, he is an authoratative member of the Gutai Group, which was formed in 1954 in the Kansai region.  Other important figures included in the group were the likes of Yoshihara Jiro, Kanayama Akira, Murakami Saburo and Shiraga Kazuo.  The activities of the group helped evolve western art for sixty years.

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In 1957 the Gutai Group presented the “Gutai Stage Exhibition”, which for the first time in art history Shimamoto put together a stage like exhibition where he used a gun to fire colours.  Shimamoto also combined these activities with the audio of John Cage and the result were given to the Pompidou centre in Paris and the Museum of the City of Ashiya.  In 1993 it appeared in the Biennial in Venice witht the Gutai Group.

More of Shimamoto’s work can be viewed at The Tate Modern alongside Jackson Pollock and Lucia Fontana.

Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar

I absolutely love Rothko, so simple yet so emotional.  When I visit Teh Tate Modern in London I always spend hours in the Rothko Room, gazing at his masterpieces.

I just came across this in The Art Newspaper, obviously another great admirer.  If you like Emir of Qatar, I will sell you acouple of my paintings and discount price.  Maybe $50m.

The Emir of Qatar and his wife have also spent $52.7m on a Francis Bacon and £9.7m on a Damien Hirst

Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family is the mystery buyer of Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, which sold at Sotheby’s New York on 15 May 2007 for $72.8m—setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a work of post-war art at auction. The painting was consigned by David Rockefeller.

A well placed source in Qatar has revealed that the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, also purchased Francis Bacon’s Study from Innocent X for $52.7m at the same Sotheby’s sale. Although Sotheby’s does not disclose information about its clients, both purchases have been independently confirmed by The Art Newspaper.

The Al-Thani family has been a major collector of Islamic art for several years but it has not previously been known to buy European and American work at this level.

We can also reveal that other recent purchases include Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring for which the Qataris paid £9.7m at Sotheby’s London in June 2007, setting an auction record for a work by a living European artist. The 2002 sculpture, which consists of painted and cast pills displayed in a steel and glass cabinet, is now installed in Doha amid a growing collection of modern and contemporary art.

The entry of the Al-Thanis into this market is part of a global movement of high-end works of art from West to East as American and European collectors—encouraged by the resilience of the top end of the market in the face of uncertainty in the financial sectors—consign works to auction which are increasingly going to new collectors in the Gulf region, the ex-Soviet republics and China.

In a statement released in February which describes its results for 2007, Sotheby’s president and chief executive officer Bill Ruprecht said: “In 2003 our top buyers—purchasing lots of $500,000 and above—came from 36 countries; in 2007 they came from 58 countries.”

Another factor is the construction of an outpost of the Guggenheim on an island adjacent to Abu Dhabi. This is scheduled to open in 2012. Zaki Nusseibeh, culture advisor to the Emirate, says the museum has a “potentially unlimited” budget for acquisitions. A branch of the Louvre is also under construction.

As part of an investigation into record auction prices for living artists, we also reveal in our May issue that Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (Magenta/ Gold), 1994-2006, which currently holds the record for the most expensive work by a living artist to sell at auction, was purchased for $23.6m by Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk. It was consigned to auction by New York collector Adam Lindemann. The Peter Doig painting, White Canoe, 1990-91, sold by British collector Charles Saatchi in February 2007 went to Georgian mining magnate, Boris Ivanishvili.

Tate Modern Again

I went to the Tate Modern yesterday, with someone very dear to me. I hadn’t met her for quite a few years so it was quite a reunion. We had a great time, I got to see Pollock again, and the Rothko room. There was Picabia but unfortunately you needed to pay to go in.

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Nude Descending a Staircase II, Marcel DuChamp, 1912

I have written about him before so I don’t need to say any more, except it is a pity I couldn’t go in to see the works.

I must draw everyone’s attention to this though:

Jackson Pollock, Number 14, 1951

Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

Number 14 1951

Enamel on canvas
support: 1465 x 2695 mm frame: 1493 x 2721 x 63 mm
painting

Purchased with assistance from the American Fellows of the Tate Gallery Foundation 1988


By 1951, Pollock had achieved considerable success with his dripped and poured abstract painting, and was widely regarded as the leading young American artist. Perhaps fearing that he was reaching an impasse in his work, he embarked on a series of black and white paintings in which figures emerge, as they had in his early works. After rolling the canvas out on the floor, he would apply the paint – usually industrial enamel paint – with sticks and basting syringes, which he wielded ‘like a giant fountain pen’, according to his wife, Lee Krasner.

‘Awesome’ Rock on Jackson

Hockney donates his biggest work to Tate

David Hockney has given Tate his largest painting, Bigger Trees near Warter. This is one of the most generous gifts presented by an artist to a UK gallery in recent years.

The Hockney is over 12 metres long and 4.5 metres high, which probably makes it the biggest painting ever done in the open air. Painted in oils, it comprises 50 separate canvases, hung together. The view is of a copse outside Bridlington, in Yorkshire, which is now Hockney’s main home.

Although the picture took only a few weeks to paint, it was a major logistical operation. An assistant took digital photographs of the paintings, recording every stage in their development and enabling the artist to see how the work was progressing.

Bigger Trees near Warter was painted just over a year ago, before the arrival of spring leaves. In June it went on public view, at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, where it took up a whole wall in the largest gallery. The work was widely regarded as the star of the show. The RA presentation also coincided with Tate Britain’s exhibition on “Hockney on Turner Watercolours”, and conversations between the artist and the gallery eventually led to the donation.

Tate has 108 Hockneys, but most are on paper, and there are only eight paintings, including this latest acquisition. The value of Bigger Trees near Warter is not being revealed for the moment (the record price for a Hockney is The Splash of 1966, which sold at Sotheby’s on 21 June 2006 for £2.9m). Its size will make displaying the work complicated, but it is expected to go on show shortly. An official announcement on the acquisition is due in April.

The Art Newspaper